Enforceability of Release Clauses

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What is a Release Clause?

A release clause is a document that releases a facility or person from liability for injuries that may occur on the premises or under that person's care.

How Do I Know if I've Signed One?

Common examples of situations where you may have signed a release clause include: 

Are Release Clauses Always Enforceable?

Release clauses are not always enforceable.  If you have signed a release clause and have been injured in connection with the activities for which you signed the release, you may still be able to sue.  Although state and federal courts differ slightly, most agree that to be enforceable, the release clause must be easily readable and understandable to non-lawyers.

My Injury was Caused by the Facility's Negligence.  Can I Sue?

The answer to this question depends upon the law of the state in which the accident occurs.  Some states hold that facilities cannot release themselves from liability for their own negligence, because then they wouldn't have any incentive to promote safety.  Other states hold that if the release clause completely, clearly, and unambiguously states that the user is releasing the premises from liability for negligence, it should be enforceable. 

Do I Need a Lawyer to Sue after Signing a Release Clause?

If you have been injured at a ski resort, health club or other place after signing a release form, you may still be able to sue for damages or other compensation.  You should consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer in your state to learn about the enforceability of release clauses and to discuss your options.

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Last Modified: 06-26-2012 12:12 PM PDT

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